Finding the healthier choice between cows’ milk and soy milk has been an ongoing debate for centuries. The truth is, both are nutrient packed and are mostly interchangeable except on occasions where there are specific dietary needs. For example, some people have a lactose intolerance– which makes cows’ milk unsuitable—while others have a soy allergy that automatically makes their choice for them.
Here are some distinct differences between soy milk and cows’ milk.
Low-fat cows’ milk and soy milk have a similar number of essential nutrients. They both give 8 grams of protein per medium cup and contain calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin B-12. Regular cow milk contains saturated fat and cholesterol while soy milk and low-fat cows’ milk do not. Soy milk, however, contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid.
Cows’ milk generally has a higher calorie content than soy milk. A cup of cows’ milk provides a bit over 100 calories while the same cup of soy milk contains about 80 calories. Light soy milk provides about 50 calories, skim cows’ milk usually contains 90 calories while whole cows’ milk gives about 150 calories per cup.
Both soy and cows’ milk help lower the risk of heart disease. A review published in 2014 found that milk and milk products—like cheese and yoghurt—are closely linked with lower heart disease risks. Surprisingly, the review suggested that even full-fat dairy products may protect against heart disease.